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1862d Econ/Evol


Matthew, P. Protection to property. Farmer’s Magazine, Ser. 3 Vol 22 (1862, Jul-Dec), p.299-300

(Article dated Sept 2)
Published back-to-back with the previous article, this is another piece railing against the British system of land tenancy. Matthew notes this year’s national harvest was again expected to be small, and blames this in large part on the lack of “protection to property” induced by the egregious land tenancy system. Matthew refers to the privileged landlord-legislator class as “the upper 10,000”, which would be about 0.1% of the population of Britain at the time. This has interesting parallels to the current “we are the 99%” movement (see also “we are the 99.9%”).

Matthew has some extremely strong words to say about “the upper 10,000”. He predicts they would go to Hell, were Hell to exist (he is careful to avoid implying that it does) as retribution for their preference for hunting on their estates. He also suggests that they represent a degenerate, uncivilized version of humanity (along with the very poor who exist because of their policies). He implies that revolution may be the only solution:
“The upper 10,000 have, at least pretend to have, other conceptions of a future existence than the transmigration theory [reincarnation], and to consider the present life a state of preparation for another excessively wicked or excessively good, the former prevailing. The reader here can form his own conclusions, from the above preparation of the probable destiny. The only excuse or palliation that can be offered for this propensity to delight in the slaughter or torture of their fellow-creatures who never did them injury, and for which, being the cause of their existence, in a manner their creator, they ought to have a creator’s kind feeling — the only excuse, I say, is, that as man sinks back into the savage stage, the knowledge of good or evil is extinguished, his moral sense is lost, his sympathies limited to himself or his own family, and he returns to his natural instincts and affinity to the canine species, So true is it that the very rich and the very poor, the two extremes of the social scale, are alike beyond the pale of civilised humanity, and properly belong to the order Raptores — to the savage or Paradisaic stage. Such is now the spread of intelligence, that nothing short of conduct the reverse of this, conduct that can bear the favourable verdict of the British people, will retain the British landowners in their present position of supreme power. Is it that they may be prepared, able as they think, to crush the British people in any attempt to establish their freedom, that they so much favour and pursue their sport of destruction — make sport of life?”

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